Despite the huge and undeniable advancements of technology in recent decades, spotting a planet located in another solar system (aka exoplanet) is hard enough. The planet has to pass in front of its host star relative to the observer.
Finding a planet in another galaxy was first seen as a much higher challenge for astronomers. But ScienceNews tells us about a new achievement that might be revolutionizing for astronomy. The first planet from another galaxy might have finally been spotted.
M51-ULS-1b is the potential planet in question
M51-ULS-1b is its name, and the Whirlpool galaxy is its location. More precisely, the supposed remote world is located 28 million light-years away from us, and it orbits two stars at once.
Even common sense tells us that other galaxies should be loaded with other planets as the Milky Way is, and astronomers are now confident that the new discovery represents another strong argument.
As Rosanne Di Stefano, an astrophysicist from the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics in Cambridge, Mass, declared as cited by ScienceNews:
We probably always assumed there would be planets in other galaxies,
But to actually find something, it’s a beautiful thing. It’s a humbling experience.
Di Stefano, along with other team members who diligently worked for the new achievement, looked for signs of blinking X-ray sources in data collected by the Chandra X-ray telescope operated by NASA. From thousands of possible transits of planets in front of stars and from three other galaxies besides the Milky Way, only one of the transits granted some evidence of being a planet. An event from almost a decade ago is the one that captured the attention of astronomers: back in 2012, the X-ray binary M51-ULS-1 got its X-rays blocked for a few hours by an object.
The most plausible explanation is that the very first exoplanet from another galaxy was detected after the scientists ruled out gas clouds, fluctuations in the X-ray source, and more.